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Norway hands papers to Palestinian PM for diplomatic recognition

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Norway has handed over diplomatic papers to the Palestinian prime minister in the latest step towards recognising a Palestinian state – a largely symbolic move that has infuriated Israel.

Ireland, Spain and Norway last week pledged to recognise a Palestinian state, increasing Israel’s isolation more than seven months into its grinding war against Hamas in Gaza.

The handover of papers by Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth Eide to prime minister Mohammad Mustafa took place on Sunday in Brussels, where the Palestinian leader will meet EU foreign ministers and other officials on Monday to drum up support for Palestinian statehood.

The diplomatic move by the three nations was a welcome boost of support for Palestinian officials who have sought for decades to establish a statehood in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – territories Israel seized in the 1967 war and still controls.

Palestine Flag

Mr Mustafa said: “Recognition means a lot for us. It is the most important thing that anybody can do for the Palestinian people.”

The formal recognition by Norway, Spain and Ireland – which all have a record of friendly ties with both the Israelis and the Palestinians, while long advocating for a Palestinian state – is planned for Tuesday.

Some 140 countries – more than two-thirds of the United Nations – recognise a Palestinian state but a majority of the 27 EU nations still do not. Several have said they will do so when the conditions are right.

The EU, the United States and Britain, among others, back the idea of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, but say it should come as part of a negotiated settlement.

Belgium, which holds the EU presidency, has said that first the Israeli hostages held by Hamas need to be freed and the fighting in Gaza must end.

Some other governments favour a new initiative towards a two-state solution, 15 years after negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed.

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